Following is the complete schedule for the series’ 2017-18 season, co-sponsored by Southminster-Steinhauer United Church and the Canadian Progressive Christianity Network. All presentations begin at 7 o’clock on Wednesday evenings, and take place at SSUC, 10740-19 Avenue NW, Edmonton; all are open to the public free of charge. Please note that programming is subject to change.
Next Speaker April 11
Back to the Future by Conor Kerr
Speaker will tell of connecting Indigenous youth with their heritageConor Kerr, singled out by Avenue as one of its “Top 40 Under 40” for “safeguarding the future of Aboriginal kids by connecting them with their past,” will tell of these efforts in a talk at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9. As well, he’ll affirm what “settler/allies” can do to work with Indigenous people, and why this is important. At Southminster-Steinhauer United Church, 10740-19 Avenue NW, his address, “Back to the Future,” is free and open to the public.As the magazine described it in its November, 2016, issue, Mr. Kerr’s “mission is to ensure that Indigenous children will renew links with their heritage.” Just 27 at the time, and serving as Aboriginal liaison specialist for Enoch, Alexander, and Paul Child & Family Services, he explained, “When we have to put children into foster care or group homes, they often lose that cultural connection”; they’re apt to have a “loss of identity,” and to “question their place in the world.”As professor of Indigenous studies at First Nations University of Canada, author Blair Stonechild, observed last year in Education Canada, “Unfortunately, many Aboriginal youth today have lost touch with their spiritual heritage, and elders believe this is the reason why so many turn to substance abuse, crime, and involvement in gangs.” It’s a pattern that Mr. Kerr is working to upend. Successfully: “Seeing the joyful looks on the faces of the kids getting reacquainted with their traditions,” Avenue reported, “brings a sense of optimism to Kerr.”A graduate of the University of Alberta, where he concentrated on Indigenous history in Alberta, he recently was named manager of Indigenous supports and services at NorQuest College; previously, he worked as a consultant in First Nations, Metis, and Inuit education with Edmonton Public Schools. In each posting, his focus has been on, in his own words, “breaking down myths and stereotypes around Indigenous peoples,” and “empowering youth through connection to their history and the land around them.”Metis himself, he was born in Saskatoon, and raised in the southern prairies in a traditional Metis community at Buffalo Pound Lake, Saskatchewan. He spent his early years mostly with grandparents and their friends, listening to the stories of the elders. He traces his family roots to the Lac Ste. Anne Metis community and the Papaschase First Nation; many family members now live on Enoch First Nation, in Edmonton, and in the bush north of St. Paul, Alberta.Mr. Kerr’s appearance at SSUC comes as part of the congregation’s Beyond: The Speakers Series, a once-a-month bundle of lectures intended to take learners beyond wherever they find themselves on their intellectual and spiritual journeys; now in its second year, it is co-sponsored by the Canadian Progressive Christianity Network.